Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA), the 119-year-old school body, entered into a five-year contract with the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians (MI) for the development of infrastructure for the 20-odd games run by the organisation at their premises at Azad Maidan yesterday.
“The partnership will develop and support all the sports organised by MSSA. There is hardly a sport that MSSA does not promote. This is a significant step for Mumbai Indians in its efforts to strongly promote other sports beyond cricket at the grassroot level,” said MI team owner Nita Ambani.
They look to work closely to promote sports as an integral part of education. “I have come to MSSA not only as a participant, but also as a parent. I feel that sports as part of education helps develop behavioural skills and shape the character of young people to succeed in life.” MSSA president, Fr Jude Rodrigues informed that as an initial step, they are looking to build an “astrograss” field (for football) by April next year.
“This is just the start and things will not change overnight. The partnership will help in turning the desert (barren playing area) in front of you into an oasis after the laying of astrograss for football. The astrograss field would be ready by April next year. Gradually we plan to develop indoor facilities for games like badminton and table tennis, and build stands for children with changing rooms apart from floodlights,” he said.
To encourage participation from schools which cannot afford to pay the annual membership of Rs 2000, MI plans to bear the cost and let the schools participate free of cost. “There are 400-odd schools participating in our tournaments. But from next season, we will waive off the annual membership fees for schools, including municipal schools, which cannot pay,” Fr Jude added.
Better medical facilities assured
Injuries are a part and parcel of any sport. But organisers MSSA have struggled to provide proper medical aid to students participating in the 20-odd games. MI owner Nita Ambani explained that this tie-up will ensure better medical facilities for the kids. “We want to create a better playing environment for children participating in the MSSA tournaments. Though it will take some time for things to fall in place, we will ensure that on the spot medical facilities are created and if any major injuries take place then the kids will be treated at the HN Hospital in Girgaum,” Mrs Ambani told MiD DAY.